On July 1, 2007, The Wilkes County Board of Health adopted local rules to protect private drinking water well supplies in Wilkes County. Environmental Health Services of the Wilkes County Health Department implemented the new local well rules. These rules remained in effect until July 1, 2008.
State Private Drinking Water Well Program
On July 1, 2008, the State Private Drinking Water Well Program went into effect. The Private Drinking Water Well Program consists of existing state groundwater protection rules and rules provided by the On-Site Water Protection Section, Private Water Supply Protection Branch. The program consists of issuing permits for new wells, repair permits for extending the casing or bore hole of an existing well, and existing well abandonment permits.
Many residents depend on private wells for their water supply. Wilkes County Health Department can test a sample, usually for a fee, when there is an unexplained illness. An Environmental Health Specialist collects the sample and sends it to the Environmental Sciences Section of the State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh. The most common day tests run are for bacterial and chemical analysis.
Total Coliform Test
The Total Coliform test is the best indicator of whether or not water is contaminated with bacteria. The coliform bacteria tested for are Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Citrobacter, and Eshericihia. The fecal coliform subgroup of total coliform is a better indicator of disease-causing bacteria in the water. If fecal coliforms are present, the water has recently been contaminated with bacteria from the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. If total coliforms are present in the sample, the water is unsafe to drink. If fecal coliforms are present, not only is the drinking water unsafe, but it also could cause diarrheal disease.
Water can also be tested for chemicals. The most common day tests run on water samples are for the levels of:
- pH (potential of hydrogen)